Global Sanitation Fund shares its Value for Money (VfM) study


The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) has released a Value for Money (VfM) study of selected Global Sanitation Fund (GSF)-supported programmes.

The analysis provides recommendations on the methodology that the GSF can use to better track VfM aspects within supported programmes. Download the study

Photo: Monitoring and verification in the GSF-supported programme in Nepal. Credit: UN-HABITAT Nepal

The study reveals that in most cases, direct implementation costs, such as Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) activities, form the largest component of total country programme expenditure. Direct programme support, such as management fees and technical support, is the second largest component. Indirect programme support, such as global GSF costs associated with WSSCC secretariat activities, is the smallest component of overall costs. The study also demonstrates that there is significant cost variation between countries with regard to economy, such as the cost per triggering session, and cost-efficiency values, such as the cost of achieving open defecation free (ODF) communities.


With maturing programmes and results steadily growing, the GSF is not only interested in the real cost of achieving results, but also in deepening its understanding of resources invested by communities, governments, and other partners. This is critical in further developing a model for scaling up sanitation and hygiene. With these aspects in mind, GSF commissioned a multi-country VfM study in 2015,  carried out by Oxford Policy Management.

The study aimed to:

  • Assess GSF-funded sanitation and hygiene implementation programmes to gauge current levels of economy, efficiency and effectiveness, by applying standard value for money analysis procedures and producing current unit costs of outcomes.
  • Recommend a better cost classification structure and aggregation procedure to facilitate future value for money analyses, and standardize this for cross-sector benchmarking.
  • Compare findings from GSF-supported programmes with existing data in the sanitation and hygiene sector, so as to benchmark GSF performance.

The value for money indicators generated for GSF-supported programmes were based on two detailed country studies conducted in Cambodia and Madagascar, and four desk-based country analyses in India, Malawi, Nepal, and Senegal.


This report has demonstrated the potential of analyzing and tracking value for money indicators within GSF-supported programmes. Furthermore, the recommendations in the study are relevant to both the GSF and other organizations seeking to deploy value for money analysis to improve their understanding of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programming.

The study also emphasizes the importance of considering the perspective from which an analysis is conducted and the purpose of such analysis. Analyses seeking to be used for programme monitoring and improvement only are likely to be less resource intensive and carry more analytical power than those which seek to establish figures that can be used to compare programmes across countries and sectors.

In most cases, the direct implementation costs of programme activities, such as community triggering and Sub-grantee staff time, is the largest component of total country programme expenditure. The second largest component of programme expenditure is associated with direct programme support, which includes Executing Agency management fees, Sub-grantee administration and technical support. Indirect programme support, which includes Country Programme Monitor costs and global learning and organizational development, is often the smallest component of overall costs.

The study also demonstrates that there is a great deal of cost variation between countries with regard to economy (e.g. the cost per triggering session) and cost-efficiency values (e.g. the cost of achieving open defecation free (ODF) communities). This variation is driven in part by programme design, and also likely influenced by socioeconomic factors. The costs related to programme outcomes – such as people living in ODF environments or washing their hands with soap – are more closely clustered around the average cost.

Taking the cost-efficiency of achieving an ODF village as an example, the indexing shows that in India, Malawi, and Cambodia, the costs of achieving ODF status are higher compared to the costs of triggering communities. This is reflective of the lower conversion rates from triggered communities to ODF communities. However, when comparing the cost efficiency indicator for people living in ODF environments, there is considerably more clustering around the mean.

For Malawi, Nepal, Cambodia, and Madagascar, the costs per person living in an ODF community are higher relative to the mean than the cost of achieving ODF status. This is reflective of the smaller community sizes for declared ODF communities. This demonstrates that programmes should not focus on any one cost efficiency indicator in isolation, without fully appreciating the different drivers of these costs.